Arizona sheriffs blast gun-smuggling operation

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- Ten Arizona sheriffs slammed the Obama administration on Friday over a botched federal operation that allowed more than 2,000 high-powered rifles to make their way to Mexico, calling for the president to launch an independent investigation and for Attorney General Eric Holder to step down or be fired.

Speaking at the state capitol in Phoenix, the sheriffs called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' 2009 operation, known as "Fast and Furious," a betrayal of state law enforcement.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said it's not a partisan issue, noting that the sheriffs joining him were Democrats and Republicans.

He says it's a public safety issue, and that the guns allowed into Mexico have been linked to dozens of crime scenes on both sides of the border.